I’ve lived in six different houses over the last 45 years, each with its own breeding chamber for budgerigar reproduction. Because there is so much to consider while dealing with this scenario, I decided to create this post for the benefit of those who are new to the hobby.
The list of things to address is extensive, and it is not intended to discourage anybody from beginning, but rather to make everyone aware of the decisions that must be made. As said, it is intended for individuals with minimal knowledge in this field, but I hope it will be of interest to the majority. The four major themes that I will be discussing are as follows:
- Show Features
When it comes to accommodating the birds, there are many areas to take into account.
- * Space available.
- * Local authorities
- * Neighbours
- * Undesirable elements
- * Birdroom siting
- * Birdroom features
- Space Available
I obviously have no control over the amount of space you have available, but for many with limited space, this will be the deciding factor when it comes to the size of stud you will be able to maintain. Keep in mind that this does not only apply to the number of stock birds you can house, as a good breeding season can more than treble your stock. If you can only fit a little stud, you’ll have to think carefully about the colors you want to concentrate in. Those that have infinite space are only restricted by their financial resources or the amount of time available to care for the birds. Keep in mind that breeding and show preparation need a significant amount of time if we want to do our birds right in both of these areas. Finally, the constraints of the next topic we need to discuss may limit your options.
- Local Authorities
These are the Local Authorities, the majority of which have some kind of rule controlling the location, size, and type of outbuilding that may be constructed, as well as how distant it must be from other people’s land. It will be time well spent if you first call them and learn what you can and cannot do.
Now we come to neighbors, which might cause some issues if you don’t think about it carefully. A stud of 50 birds may make quite a racket, and not everyone has the same tolerance for the constant chatter of budgerigars, so in addition to following the rules, try to locate the birdroom as far away from humans as possible.
Finally, once you’re up and running, if your neighbors have children, encourage them to take an interest in the birds; the time spent showing them the birds can be very valuable, as their opinions can have a big influence on how they react to the presence of your birds, and it may even encourage the children or even the parents to take up budgerigars for themselves.
- Undesirable Elements
Now we get to the unfavorable parts, and I wish to tackle the topics that have concerned me over the years. I recommend that you enquire with established fanciers in your region to see if there is something unique to your location.
Some trees and plants, particularly Yew and Laburnum trees, as well as rhubarb leaves, may cause chaos at certain times of the year, so if these are nearby, you should consider covering the flights where trees are involved and boarding up the base where undesired plants are concerned.
You must also consider if other livestock is nearby, since this increases the possibility of mice and rats. A visit to the local pest control officer might be quite beneficial in such circumstances. Pigeons and chickens may also raise the risk of Red Mite, an irritating little critter that can wreak havoc on the birds if it gets out; I’ll elaborate on this when we get to the birdroom.
Cats are not considered unwanted since they serve to reduce the chance of mice and, if the flights are double wired, the birds quickly get used to the presence of the cats. I have one that sits on the roof of the Birdroom shed and observes the birds, but they ignore him. I’m having more trouble with the local kestrels since they fly right at the wire, causing the birds to go insane.
- Birdroom Siting
We now move on to birdroom placement; its position has already been determined, thus the only question is which direction it should face. Based on my experience with locating six birdrooms facing various directions, I have concluded that it does not really matter, although it is widely accepted that it is ideal if it faces South, as you can then make the greatest use of available light and avoid frigid North winds.
- The Birdroom
Finally, we get to the birdroom. As previously said, the amount of space available, the money you can afford to pay, and the amount of time you can give to the pastime will all be determining factors in the size of your birdroom. However, if you have the space and funds, I strongly advise you to buy or build larger-than-necessary accommodation for your immediate needs, because later, if you do wish to increase your stock, you will find that cramped working areas can be very frustrating at times, and I speak from current experience.
My garden is small now that I am retired, and I can only accommodate a 10 x 8 foot birdroom with a 12 x 3 foot outside flight, which I find very cramped. I recently cleared an area at the side of my garage and managed to erect a 7 x 3 foot shed with a 10 x 3 foot outside flight, but working in the small shed is very frustrating, but it must be done. Remember that you will need space to store seed, display cages, nest boxes that are not in use, other miscellaneous goods, breeding records, and the ability to prepare birds for shows.
I do not want to offer a birdroom design, since they have been well addressed in many other publications; instead, I will recommend specific elements that I have found to be useful to me. They are not all my ideas; many of them I saw in other places and chose to include into my own birdroom.
I prefer to treat the region with a strong weedkiller well before building, and then the flight area is prepared for proper drainage. For wooden sheds, I like to raise it on concrete or brick pillars, then place 4 x 4 inch wooden runners on top to support the floor evenly. A ground clearance of 9 to 12 inches is ideal because it allows for good air flow under the shed, which keeps the floor in good condition, and also allows cats free access, which reduces the risk of mice. Before installing the floor, place thick polystyrene sheets below and cover with a layer of aluminum foil to reduce heat loss. In the warmer summer months, I like completely opening windows at each end of the shed to provide enough circulation throughout the birdroom.
Sliding doors provide access to the interior flights, giving me more floor space. If you utilize this configuration and wish to build shelves on the flight frame, the doors will have to move within the flight, which poses a severe concern since it is quite simple to behead a bird, therefore make sure the birds are far clear before opening.
With just little flights, I place seed bowls on the floor to give the birds more exercise by soaring higher. I board up the lowest two feet of the interior flights to keep the birdroom’s working space generally clean of seed husks and feathers. Curtain expanding wire is used to retain cuttlefish on the outside of cage fronts while allowing the birds adequate access through the wires. By doing so, you ensure that the cuttlefish does not get fouled, especially by hens when breeding, and the minimal extra cost is recouped by the savings on cuttlefish.
Before lining the shed, treat it with a good anti-mite treatment, then put in fiber glass insulation. Lining materials come down to cost again, with melamine facing being the best since it does not require painting and is readily cleaned.
Use second-hand concrete or breeze blocks 14 x 9 inches if you have earthen floor locations. I bury the blocks 6 inches into the ground, leaving 3 inches above the surface, and then put 2 x 2 inch wooden runners on top of these, to which the flights may be fixed. I cover the floor with 4 inches of chippings, and it is easily hosed off and changed over because of the outstanding drainage.
We now shift our focus to the topic of breeding birds.
When it comes to obtaining initial stock for the beginner, the advice given is conflicting. Some say start with pet birds first and gain experience with them, as there is usually an outlet for the young produced, while others say why waste time breeding pet birds, get the best you can and learn as you go, accepting any setbacks. Both perspectives have merits and downsides.
To add to the complexity, I’d like to provide another point of view. If you are new to cattle breeding, you must first master the necessary husbandry skills. Rather than using pet birds or expensive stock, I recommend finding a local novice exhibitor who is getting reasonable show results (especially if his stock is from a notable Champion breeder) and purchasing several pairs of his second string young bred from his good stock, the ones that aren’t showing all the desirable show features but can carry them in their background; these birds can usually be obtained quite affordably.
If you have success breeding, you may return to the source to increase your stock, or if you have the funds, you might perhaps go back to the person who gave him. At the very least, you may keep the young as pets and acquire experience.
Exhibition Bird Features
Before I leave, I’d want to go through some of the terminology used to describe the positive and poor qualities of the birds on display. Many visitors hear these expressions but do not understand what is being said and are too ashamed to ask for explanation.
“the distance between the eyes”
This refers to the breadth of the skull and has nothing to do with feathers; it is difficult for most novices to notice since a difference of tenths of a millimetre may be significant.
Feather structure that allows the feather to fall over the eyes, giving them a Chinese aspect (i.e.. Making the eyes appear elongated and small).
“The bird displays a lot of Face.”
This indicates that the bird has a decent width between the eyes, a punched in beak, browiness over the eyes, a broad and deep mask, and an equal distribution of uniformly sized spots (5 to 6 mm).
The yellow or white feathers on the top of the head reach past the eye. (A very desired trait).
“Put your pants on”
The bird lacks the power to rise up clear of the perch, so it drops down, and the feathers obscure its feet since it is normally a buff-feathered bird.
“Heavy Flue” A buff bird with no taper between the legs back to the tail.
The bird is uneasy, and its feathers are drawn in close to the body, obscuring its excellent traits, which are mostly determined by feather structure.
The structure of the bird must be solid. Many buff birds seem to have this ability, but when they pull, you can see that it is all feather.
“Neck or Shoulder”
This refers to the region between the top of the skull and the wing butts. This region should be filled in with no hint of a shoulder outline when seen from the front, and extremely full when viewed from the rear.
The feathers on top of the head have dark patterns. (Very unpleasant trait).
This refers to black marks on the underlying feathers on the top of the head, which give it a characteristic smoky look.
“Grizzled” (Opalines) (Opalines)
This is true of the black striations around the back of the neck. These striations are broken and softer in color in the Opaline variants, giving the bird a grizzled look.
Body color bleeds into usual yellow or white patches on the side of the neck. This is a very frequent yet unpleasant condition caused by the over usage of opalines.
This is a phrase used to describe an unattractive trait in Opaline wings; it is a diminution of the black patterns in the butt of the wing, encompassing an area the size of a thumb print. This region is the same color as the body, however it is usually diluted.
So, I’ve reached the conclusion; I suppose there will be many who disagree with me, but that’s the nature of livestock breeding debates.
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